Ashley and Daniel Pardo, homeschooling parents of Drake, 4 who was wrongfully removed from his home in 2019 have finally been dropped from Texas’ registry of ‘child abusers’ one year after the Child Protective Services dropped its case against the Pardos. This has closed the high profile case.
The Pardo family’s fight with Child Protective Services began in June 2019, when CPS staff, assisted by the police, entered the Pardos home and took their 4-year-old son, Drake, who had health problems and put him in protective custody.
According to the Pardos, the authorities did not offer any explanation why Drake was being removed from his home and did not provide any information about the allegations against them.
The CPS involvement began when the couple filed a complaint against a doctor who was treating Drake (who has multiple medical conditions) and asked for a second opinion. After the removal, the Pardos discovered that the allegation made against them was Munchausen syndrome by proxy (MSBP), a mental health problem in which a parent or guardian makes up or causes an illness or injury in an individual under his or her care, such as a child, an elderly adult, or a person who has a disability. Under this condition, a parent will exaggerate or fabricate illnesses to have a child medically treated.
Following a six-month ordeal, during which Drake was placed in a foster home, Child Protective Services dropped its case after they failed to provide evidence of any danger which justified keeping the child from his parents. Drake returned home, and all charges were dismissed against the parents.
Despite the case being dismissed against the parents, the CPS still kept the family on the Child Abuse Registry which shows up on background checks and may have prevented the family from gaining employment and volunteering.
In April 2020, lawyers for the Pardo family filed an official administrative appeal of the Child Protective Services decision to keep the family on the registry, but the request was denied.
Following the rejection, the family filed a second appeal to the Office of Consumer Relations, an office within the Texas Department of Family Protective Services.
Tim Lambert, president of the Texas Homeschool Coalition sent a letter to DFPS Commissioner Jamie Masters which was also co-signed by twenty-six lawmakers and policy leaders, asking for the Pardo family be removed from the registry.
In the letter, Lambert said that being on the Child Abuse Registry carried a damaging cultural stigma because, as the average Texan would reasonably presume, such a registry is home to individuals who commit horrible crimes against their children.
Tim Lambert welcomed the decision to finally remove the Pardo family from the child abuse registry stating “CPS protects thousands of children every year, but they didn’t protect the Pardo family or Drake, they traumatized them. It is unconscionable that the agency would drop all charges against the family but then keep the family on the Child Abuse Registry anyway.”
Lambert added, “The agency did the right thing by reversing that decision, removing the Pardos from the registry, and finally giving this innocent family a much-needed respite from this traumatic battle.”